“We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.” ~Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
I have written before about some of the advice I received when I first started my business. Advice about not being too transparent with my own life — both present and past — as doing so was, perhaps, not entirely professional.
Also: It was suggested to me that some of the less-than-glamourous emotional territory I have waded through in my life might be a bit too real to share without compromising my credibility as a healthcare provider.
But here’s the thing: I call bullshit on that.
Why? Because I think that revealing myself to be a real person with real struggles who has moved through some extremely challenging times actually enhances my ability to provide genuine, quality care to any person who walks into my treatment room.
I am not a robot. (Surprise, you guys!)
And I’m hopeful that anyone who seeks out acupuncture from me will be comforted by the openness and transparency with which I approach my relationship with them. And will be relieved to learn that I have actual human emotions and an actual dynamic history instead of robotic arms and a purely mechanical approach to care.
Maybe I’m wrong. But the last five years of practice have suggested this is not the case.
I know some things. It’s true. I have several years (SO. MANY.) of education and a few decades of life experience to which I can attribute this knowledge.
But also: I’m still here figuring this shit out, too. And to pretend otherwise would be to show up inauthentically, which is not something I am particularly interested in doing.
I have walked through severe depression and years of daily self-injury and a period of weekly panic attacks and destructive relationships and the disorientation of leaving the religion within which I was raised because I could no longer pretend it was true.
And I have come out the other side healthier and happier and more grounded than I ever thought possible.
But not before getting my hands real fucking dirty. And my heart broken about a hundred times along the way.
Do I still experience anxiety sometimes? Yes. Do I still have days during which I feel depressed and unmotivated? Yes. But these days are infrequent at this point and my relationship to these emotional shifts has changed dramatically such that a day of heightened anxiety can come and go without throwing the whole thing off course for weeks.
And I can sit in the discomfort of depressive feelings for a few days without feeling completely consumed by them.
And I hope that by being transparent about my experiences and my history and my less-than-perfect past, I can be an example for someone who might be struggling the way I was, someone who might believe things will never be any different than they are right now.
Because things can get mind-blowingly better.
And I want the way I live my life to be proof that this is true. To be evidence that you can move through hard things and come out the other side a better version of yourself. To show anyone who comes to see me that where they are in this moment doesn’t have to be where they stay indefinitely.
For these reasons, I’m not afraid to put some of my cards on the table when it’s possible other practitioners might not feel comfortable doing so. I’m willing to talk about my own experience with anxiety and depression and my history of self-loathing.
I’ll open up about leaving the church of my youth (and will do so for all to hear on next week’s episode of the podcast, FYI) because the experience of navigating the world in the aftermath of that choice has been the most concrete example in my life of just how much we can change and evolve as people if we’re willing to question our assumptions and challenge our beliefs along the way.
Even when it’s horribly uncomfortable to do so.
So, yeah. I’m pretty transparent. And if you want to work with someone who has it all together all the time, I might not be your person.
But if you want to work with someone who is a real human with real emotions and an imperfect path thus far in her life, I’m your girl. Call me.
In the meantime, check out my podcast, Curious & Curiouser, on which I open up about all sorts of things with my fabulous co-host, Tracey Biebel. And then go check her out at Practical Parenting PDX and/or Practical Living PDX. She’s equally open and refreshingly honest.
If you like me, I’m certain you’ll love Tracey just as much. Maybe even a little bit more.
Happy Friday, y’all. Go do something fun this weekend, ok?